Passenger Service Agents Urge Congress to Protect Airline Customer Service Employees

June 30th, 2016

From the CWA Newsletter:

A group of Airline Passenger Service Agents, representing the 20,000 CWA organized workers at American Airlines, Envoy, and Piedmont, gathered this week in Washington, DC to urge Members of Congress to extend assault protections to airline customer service employees.

Passenger Service Agents have reported being verbally and physically assaulted by customers, including being hit, having luggage and equipment thrown at them, being pulled over counters, and getting spat upon.

“We need to stop the abuse from customers,” said Ingrid Peredes, an Agent at Envoy. “We’re getting bags thrown at us. People are getting punched and slapped. Miami is a busy airport, and a lot of things are happening there. I’m a front-line employee at the curbside. Passengers are getting upset because we’re trying to charge for the bags, and they throw things at us and curse at us.”

While it is a felony under federal law to assault or interfere with the duties of a flight crew member, including Flight Attendants and pilots, there are currently no federal protections for passenger service workers who are vulnerable to criminal acts while performing their jobs.

“I’m here today in hopes of getting legislation passed that will give agents the same rights as Flight Attendants and pilots,” said James McKnight, an Envoy Agent in Miami. “More and more situations are occurring at airports, putting passenger service agents in bad situations.”

The carriers offer no training on dealing with violent passengers, so Agents rely on intervention from other Agents, employees, and even passengers. Sometimes the airport police get involved, but in most cases, passengers face no consequences and are simply escorted to their flights by airline supervisors.

De Anna Davis, an Agent at Envoy in Beaumont, Tex. said: “We’re a small Category 4 airport, which means we don’t have police officers on duty. If an incident occurs and we can’t control the passenger or the situation, we have to dial 911. By the time they show up, it can escalate. Sometimes you have to walk away and close the door and wait for the police to knock on the door. I don’t like anyone to know where I park, because I’ve had people follow me outside, even when I’m helping a handicapped passenger get in their vehicle.”

Sign the petition to tell Congress to protect passenger service agents here.